An MBA with a greater focus on data analytics

By equipping its students with the hard skills and sense of community to make a difference in the world, the MBA program at the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business at Saint Louis University stands out among its peers. We spoke with David Sanders, Director of One-Year MBA and Assistant Professor in Economics at the university, to learn more about the MBA program’s emphasis on data analytics, diversity, and the rise in international students.

In short

The importance of data analytics in the SLU MBA program

One-year, two-year, full-time, part-time, online, hybrid…there have never been so many types of MBAs out there, but with so much choice, how do business schools make their program stand out from the crowd? 

David Sanders, Director of One-Year MBA and Assistant Professor in Economics at the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business at Saint Louis University, believes that a greater focus on analytics is one of the reasons behind the growing popularity of their program.

“Students are going to get a lot of those different business disciplines, so the core elements of business are all going to be captured. You’re going to have accounting, finance, economics, and management, but then we’re also going to expand into those other courses where we will have more of an analytics approach,” he explains. (05:23)

Besides the focus on analytics, SLU MBA students will also study modules in Excel, SPSS, and Python. According to David, their varied curriculum is simply a reaction to the needs of modern-day employers.

“It really comes from what companies are looking for,” he states. “I think that our program has to be ever-evolving. We’re never looking to stand back, we’re always looking to change, to add in a little bit. We’re very frequently going to companies and saying: What do you want? It’s where we get our importance for data analytics.” (06:56)

Why diversity in personality drives the SLU admissions process

You might assume that a program with such a strong focus on numbers might attract candidates with strong quantitative abilities. And that’s certainly true – but there is a more diverse range of applicants than you might expect. David cites law and medicine as two unlikely industries that they see a lot of applications from.

“We have students for example who are in the law program here at Saint Louis University…but they’ve decided that corporate or tax law is going to be something of interest. What that means is that they need to enhance their business background as well,” David explains. “Hospital administration is now not just run by doctors, you have to have someone with business acumen as well, so we are seeing a lot of students who are going through programs and health administration come into the MBA program.” (08:28)

SLU values diversity in background, but also diversity in personality. According to David, gathering together a range of students who are willing and able to learn from each other is just as important as quantitative skills or exam results.

He says, “I want personalities that are going to be able to learn from each other. It’s an underutilized resource, I think, in education – the ability to learn from your peers.” (11:05)

The reasons behind an increase in international students

SLU’s MBA program is STEM-certified, which means it has been recognized by the US government for its focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This has implications for international student visas. Students who complete a STEM-certified degree in the United States can remain in the country for an extra 12 months after graduation, thanks to the OPT extension scheme. David believes this is helping drive growth in international students.

“Over the past couple of years, we’ve really grown in our number of international students in the program…I think one of the biggest opportunities is that we are now STEM-certified, so for our international students, this is going to mean that OPT extension – that opportunity to find somewhere to work in the United States,” he confirms. (16:59)

The program ticks a lot of the boxes you might expect from a top MBA, apart from one thing: the cost. Affordable tuition fees and a low cost of living in St. Louis are attracting more and more international students to SLU.

“I think the value [of the MBA] is really important as well,” David adds. “Relative to a lot of nationally-ranked institutions, SLU’s expenses are not as high – both cost of living and tuition. But our job market outcomes are great, and I think that’s really valuable to our international students as well.” (20:48)

How SLU's Jesuit traditions build a sense of community

When international students do pass through the doors at SLU, it seems the school’s Jesuit traditions rub off on them. Many graduate with the dream of improving the economy and community of their home country, working to create more opportunities for the next generation.

“We have a lot of students who are excited about the STEM certification and the OPT extension, but what are their goals? Their goals are to return to their home country and say ‘I want to make a better life for my community.’ I think the skills that you learn here are going to give you that opportunity,” David tells us. (21:37)

It’s this sense of community that seems to shine through at SLU. Students leave here not only with the hard skills to make an impact in the world but also with the sense of community to make it happen.

“I think that’s something that’s real important about Saint Louis University. A lot of our students come here for that reason: It’s not just to say: ‘Hey, I want to make myself better,’ it’s that I want to make my greater community better. I want to somehow make the world better. It’s idealistic…but that’s what I see every day.” (23:21)

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